Thursday, January 19, 2006

Will Lobbying Curbs Hurt the CBC?

The curbs on lobbying being proposed by Congress could prohibit ANY gifts from lobbyists. This might be okay for the rich members, but for members of more modest means, this will inhibit their ability to compete. We believe that money is a form of speech and, for the most part, should not be limited, just disclosed. If you look at financial disclosure reports, you will see that they are pretty thin for members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Some CBC members, like many other members of Congress, accepted contributions from Jack Abramoff.

CBC members are not rich. Although Senator Barack Obama amassed $15 million for his senate victory and Congressman Charles Rangel raises the most in the House CBC with about $2 million for his campaigns, most members are not wealthy. That $165,000 annual salary doesn't go very far when you have to support two homes. Put a kid or two in college and they have to budget.

When I organized the first Energy Braintrust for Congressman Mickey Leland in 1982, I shared with him that it was interesting to me that although the CBC is feted by the energy industry, they consistently scored as the highest voting caucus on environmental issues. And I don't think the CBC gets enough contributions from the energy sector or the environmental movement. Posted by Norris McDonald

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